Modern life can be hell on your posture, especially your neck. As chiropractors here in Redmond, WA, which thanks to our Microsoft neighbor is one of the tech capitals of the world, every day we see patients who are suffering from pain induced by the realities of a tech-heavy lifestyle.
We know you aren’t going to give up using technology, but raising your awareness can help a lot. So, here are the most common lifestyle-related activities we see that torpedo your neck, and a few tips for combating them.
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Texting – Literally a pain in the neck
This one is a doozer, so it’s no surprise that now there is even a term for it: Text neck. What can you do short of giving up your favorite form of communication? First, look up. Try to keep your phone in front of you as much as possible, like this guy below:
Next, make sure you have texts set up to work on your computer. As bad as your posture is typing at your desk, it’s even worse when you are hunched over your phone. So use your computer to send and read texts whenever you can. If you’ve got your desk set up ergonomically, this is going to be way gentler on your neck than looking down at your smartphone.
There are also some great home exercises you can do to reduce the effects of text neck including the chin tuck. Simply push your chin down and back into your neck until you feel you can’t go back any farther. This isn’t the prettiest stretch, because you make a double chin doing it, but it effectively relieves pressure off of the joints in your neck and relaxes tight shoulder muscles.
The more you focus on preventing text neck, the fewer visits to the chiropractor you will need to make to fix it after the fact.
Sitting down – Is the new smoking
Whether you are in front of a computer, playing video games or watching TV, sitting is the new smoking. So find ways to get up at least every 45 minutes to an hour. If you are watching TV, pick one or more triggers to get you to stand up and stretch for a few minutes. For example, you can try placing the snacks (or beer) across the room so you at least have to get up to get them. When you do get up, try stretching one arm out against a door jam or wall to open up your short and tight shoulder and neck muscles as pictured in the photo below.
In addition, keep a foam roller in the TV room and use it while you watch. You’ll be tuning up your muscles and preventing yourself from sitting for too long at the same time. Your neck, hips and glutes will all feel better, and you can still catch that football game guilt-free. (Go Hawks!)
Commuting by car – The modern neck cruncher
Sitting in your car in traffic for hours is a sure-fire way to make your back and neck angry. Here in our area, the Seattle-to-Redmond commute can easily stretch to an hour or more. As chiropractors and health care practitioners, sure we encourage you to bike to work, but we know that for many people that is simply impractical. So since most of us are stuck driving, try setting yourself up for success in the car as best you can. Sit upright, shoulder back and down, chest up, no resting over to one side on the window frame or center console.